The Moncione Mill was the largest in Elba, born with a horizontal water wheel, later enlarged and modified with a vertical wheel. In practice, a new mill was built attached to the previous one (the South-West part), with new mechanical rooms, new gears and a new vertical cassette wheel. Using only the barrel of the previous structure (after hydraulic modifications) and little more.
Descriptive sign of the Mill of Moncione
It is the largest and most beautiful mill on Elba. Originally of small size, it had a horizontal water wheel (Retrécine) whose axis was integral with the upper element of the millstone, which ran with a circular motion on the underlying fixed portion. It is still visible the vaulted room where the port was placed (carcinaio) and the room above with the millstones. Between 1880 and 1890 the mill was enlarged with the introduction of a large vertical cassette wheel and a complex system of gears to multiply its speed; in this way, production was increased up to 4 quintals per hour.
The gears were transported on a donkey’s back, while the axis of the wheel – a single piece weighing 12 quintals – was driven partly on a cart and partly dragged by arms. The Sanpieresi who had collaborated in the company were then invited to a big party held in Moncione for the inauguration of the structure. The wheat was transported to the mill on a donkey’s back, and on the way back the flour, the fruit of so much effort, was brought home. The mill ceased to function around 1910. In 1935, on the occasion of the African war, the iron parts (gears and axis) were resold for 270 lire. The building is still intact; the bottaccio, the penstock and the premises for the grinding of the wheat are still visible.
Barrel : collection tank for the water necessary for the operation of the mill, it is channeled and collected in a reservoir called a “barrel”. The barrel, delimited by masonry walls or earth embankments and having the bottom inclined towards the mill, constitutes a reserve of water that allows to keep the difference in level constant, between the surface of the water and the water wheel, allowing a of adjustable grinding.
Ritrécine : Wooden wheel with blades which, moved by the force of falling water, allows the rotary movement of the grinder in water mills.
Bottaccio : contains the retrecine and is where the water comes out, at the end of its hydraulic course inside the mill.
How to reach the Moncione Mill
The mill can be reached from San Piero in about 30/40 minutes on foot, following the paths in the realm of granite. Otherwise in 20/25 minutes of walking, from bollecaldaie (reachable by car), locality above cavoli.